Alzheimer’s disease is one of the costliest diseases in the country. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is difficult and expensive. This year, total payments for health care, long-term, and hospice are estimated to be $236 billion for people with the disease. On its current trajectory, the cost is expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2050.
Last year, more than 500,000 Alzheimer’s caregivers racked up 578,000,000 total hours of unpaid care, valued at $7,035,000,000. Alzheimer’s is a draining disease, which affects both the patient and caregiver.
And Alzheimer’s doesn’t solely contain monetary effects among caregivers. Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming, and many caregivers experience high levels of stress. When stress reaches precipitous heights, it can be extremely harmful to both caregiver and patient.
Denial, anger, depression are just a few emotions caregivers can experience. It’s exhausting and takes a physical and mental toll on you.
Managing the stress and bevy of emotions starts with knowing resources are available to you. Adult day programs, in-home assistance, visiting nurses and meal delivery are some services that can help manage the day-to-day tasks. You can also use the alz.org Alzheimer’s Navigator, which helps evaluate your needs, identify actions steps and connect with local programs and services. Memorial Healthcare even hosts an Alzheimer’s Support Group on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. in the Lower Level Auditorium.
Implementing relaxation techniques is also an effective combatant of stress. Breathing exercises, meditation, and even progressive muscle relaxation can instill some calm and ward off stress.
Making time for you is also a critical aspect to being a caregiver. It can be difficult to carve out this time, however, staying connected to friends and family and remaining social and active improves your well-being – even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. Additionally, look out for yourself by visiting your own doctor regularly. By staying healthy, you’ll be a better caregiver.
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis changes many lives. It’s costly in more than one way. Many caregivers end up cutting back on basic necessities. An Alzheimer’s Association survey revealed that caregivers are 28% more likely than other adults to ear less or go hungry because they cannot afford to pay for food. Alzheimer’s impact goes beyond the person diagnosed with it. Just because you are supporting someone doesn’t mean you don’t need support yourself.